Yoga guru Bikram Choudhury and his company Bikram Choudhury Yoga, Inc., have sued four insurance companies and Jane Does 1 through 100 in the Superior Court of the State of California, Santa Monica. The guru alleges that the insurance companies were bound by law and terms of contract to either defend him or otherwise lawfully notify him of their stances in respect to several lawsuits filed against the guru accusing him of abusive conduct. Complaints against Bikram Choudhury range from sex-based discrimination, sexual harassment and outright rape in the different lawsuits.
Bikram Choudhury has denied all accusations against him and alleges that he has been harmed by the conduct of the insurance companies, namely, Philadelphia Indemnity, Lexington Insurance, Scottsdale Insurance and Nationwide.
The complaint against the insurance companies, which has been filed by K&L Gates on behalf of the guru, raises four causes of action including breach of contract, tortuous breach of contract, declaratory relief and unfair competition. A copy of the complaint can be found here: Bikram v. Philadelphia Indemnity Insurance.
The guru held valid insurance policies from all the companies and as the complaint mentions, “The Nationwide Policy requires Nationwide, among other things, to defend the insureds in any suit alleging a ‘wrongful act,’ which is defined to include, inter alia, any actual or alleged act, error, omission, misstatement, misleading statement, neglect or breach of duty.”
Similarly, the complaint claims, policies of the other three companies, which are remarkably similar, assured the guru and his company that they would be defended in matters of personal and advertising injury “defined to include injury arising out of, inter alia, false arrest, detention or imprisonment; malicious prosecution, and etcetera.”
The guru alleges that in all the five pending cases, each of which has been brought separately by accusers, the insurance companies have failed to provide money for legal defense, or otherwise failed to properly communicate their reasons for not defending the guru under California law.
Specifically, he alleges, the insurance companies did not follow Cal insurance code § 790.03(h), and Cal. Code Regs., tit 10, § 2695.5(b) and § 2695.1(b) which deal with how insurers should conduct themselves in a timely fashion in respect to claims and communications.
Currently, there are several pending civil lawsuits against Bikram Choudhury, including some brought by Jane Does, while others like Anderson v. Choudhury, Jaffa-Bodden v. Choudhury, and Baughn v Choudhury have made headline news.
Here is one of his yoga poses in action:
Bikram Yoga is supposed to have the largest hot-yoga organization in the world, a veritable business empire, which grew unabated in the U.S. after Bikram managed to get U.S. patents on 26 postures that have been practiced in India for thousands of years by yogis. The U.S. Patent Office later realized its error during another matter and revoked the patents.
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Article Sources: HuffingtonPost, Wikipedia and RandomHouse.ca
Main image credit: Yaniv Nord, Flickr, CC v. 2.0 license (cropped and borders added)